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Corn maze on Hwy. 53 vandalized with suspected herbicide
corn maze
Aerial photograph of the damage done to crops during the recent vandalism. - photo by For the Dawson County News

Papa Pat’s, a new corn maze off of Hwy. 53, was the recent target of vandalism, according to officials.

The maze, located in the former location of Uncle Shuck’s Corn Maze, is beginning its first year of operation and is operated by Brian and Stella Gober.

The Gobers said they didn’t see anything wrong with the crops on Aug. 17 as they began to cut in the maze. But by the next day, they began to notice spots on the leaves. By Aug. 19, large swaths of the corn field were dead.

The damage to the corn field was severe, and appears to be the result of a chemical herbicide sprayed over large strips of the field, according to officials. The Dawson County Sheriff’s Office is conducting an investigation into the incident.

Sources close to the investigation say the Department of Agriculture suspects the herbicide used was paraquat, though the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office is still “waiting on test results to come back,” according to Chief Deputy Greg Rowan.

According to the Center for Disease Control, “In the United States, paraquat is available primarily as a liquid in various strengths. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency classifies paraquat as ‘restricted use.’ This means that it can be used only by people who are licensed applicators.”

The Gobers mentioned that they noticed foot tracks through the corn field that corresponded to the paths of the herbicide.

“It really just made us mad,” said Brian Gober. “We’re just trying to make a corn maze for the … community and people to come out and have fun and enjoy it. And somebody’s trying to screw with us.”

This isn’t the first instance of vandalism that the corn maze has suffered. According to Stella Gober, at the beginning of the planting season a tire on their tractor was drilled through and a chain was stolen off the corn planter.

Papa Pat’s is slated to open on Sept. 20 and will include a pumpkin patch and hay ride.

The field was previously the location of Uncle Shuck’s Corn Maze. Uncle Shuck’s was in that location for 17 years before they decided to move across town to buy a larger lot.